SP03 Hand Spinning for Fair Isle with Elizabeth Johnston and Martha Owen

Wednesday, May 2, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 4-H Hall

Starting with a palette of Shetland sheep shades combined with a pre-dyed supply of fleece, hand card and combine colors to see the endless variety of heather mixes achievable. Spin and ply your carded collection to be ready to design and knit in the stranded style called “Fair Isle”. (See Thursday, May 3, “Fair Isle Knitting” class.) Topics included: cultural details, color blending, wheel adjustments, plying, lessons on consistency, and yarn management. Gain inspiration from traditional shaded patterns and motifs for characteristic Fair Isle knitting from Shetland. Proficiency Level: Intermediate to Advanced. Bring to Class: A spinning wheel in workable condition, extra bobbins, maintenance tools, and oil bottle. (Hand spindles work too.) Make sure your wheel likes to spin fine yarn. Don’t bring an Ashford Country Spinner. We can work with a Louet, however. Spinning chair, if desired; hand cards; nostepinne (ball winder); 3″-4″ long fiber from any animal for blending experiments; favorite photos or postcards for color inspiration; notebook for note taking; tape for securing samples; tea cup and favorite kind of tea to share.
Class Fee: $100. Materials Fee: $40.

Elizabeth Johnston is a spinner, weaver and knitter from Scotland’s Shetland Islands. She learned to knit before she learned to read and write, from her mother, her aunt and grandmother, who were all production knitters selling their work to local shops. But she learned to purl from her father! She learned spinning slowly, initially observing it as a child, and finally learning her spinning skills from the older women in the community. Using these age-old spinning and knitting skills, handed down through generations, she turns Shetland fleece into beautiful soft yarns, and knitted Fair Isle and lace items. Elizabeth makes her living by demonstrating, teaching, spinning, knitting and selling her work through her business: “Shetland Handspun” (www.shetlandhandspun.com). She is a tutor and program co-coordinator for “Hoswick Wool Week”, part of the internationally popular event – “Shetland Wool Week”, a 9-day event throughout Shetland annually in late September. Interest in the long history of Shetland textiles led to research into historic fabrics and the warp-weighted loom, learning how to weave on this ancient loom in the process. She is the author of two chapters in Shetland Textiles 800 BC to the Present, and coauthored The Warp Weighted Loom with friends from Iceland and Norway.

Martha Owen is a resident artist in spinning/knitting/feltmaking and dyeing at the John C. Campbell Folkschool in Brasstown, North Carolina (www.folkschool.org). Her adventure in spinning began at this very school in 1978. Since then her extended family has included sheep (mostly Corriedale, Shetland, Romney) and Angora rabbits (French). Also a banjo player and known to tell a story or two, Martha’s interest in sheep and wool, music and dance has carried her quite literally and joyfully around the world. She reads historical fiction for knitting references and “steals” ideas and runs movies back to see the shape of a hat or to draw a color repeat. She is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild (www.southernhighlandguild.org), and was a co-owner of Yarn Circle, a small fiber shop which closed July 2016.

2018 Catalog Cover Art Competition Winner

Congratulations to Sally Drew of Olney, MD for her winning entry in the 2018 Cover Art Competition.

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